Open Finance has continued to evolve the payment industry, and its growing adoption rates and role in reviving the economy are significant.
Off the back of Weavr announcing the acquisition of the B2B Open Banking platform, Comma Payments, we spoke to the firm’s CEO, Alex Mifsud, who underlined the disruptive potential held by Open Banking.
Firstly are you able to tell us more about the partnership with Comma and why they are a great partner for you?
Open Banking holds great promise as a means to integrate bank payments within ERP systems, payroll solutions and other B2B software. In practice, it falls short: implementation is variable at best and many critical features like bulk payments are not available, rendering Open Banking of little use.
Comma has effectively removed the limitations by supplying the missing functionality and standardising the user experience across the diversity of implementations with banks. For Weavr, Comma brings an essential component of B2B embedded finance: the ability to interact with existing business bank accounts to complement Weavr’s growing set of B2B embedded finance capabilities.
How do you believe Open Finance is changing the payment industry and why is it so crucial for businesses during a challenging period?
The disruptive potential of Open Finance lies in the fact that, when a bank secures a customer relationship, it does not confer to the bank the right to exclusively control the interaction with the financial product. Open Finance makes it possible for third parties, such as software applications, to gain the customer’s permission to access the data related to the financial product, and also to perform activities on behalf of the customer.
This creates the scope for offering customers capabilities beyond those offered by the financial institution that issued the product. For instance, the third party can combine multiple data sets and support automation in innovative ways that add value to the customer experience. In this way, as never before, financial services start to become similar to other software ecosystems where diverse applications can interact to solve customer problems in a holistic way.
The challenge is that there is much to be done to deliver on the promise of Open Finance – poor and inconsistent implementation makes it especially hard for the promise to be delivered in practice.
Does the partnership take on increased importance during the tough economic climate?
In an economic climate where demand is under pressure, there is a higher bar for the adoption of any service or solution. By combining its capabilities with Comma, Weavris able to provide more comprehensive solutions that deliver more value to customers – for instance, offering the ability to fully automate the accounts payable process or payroll payments, thereby reducing the cost of errors and labour for businesses at a time when costs are rising and workers are in short supply.
Why is a seamless integration process so crucial to the partnership and to your partners?
Seamless integration translates into solutions that just get the job done. Processes that need constant intervention and supervision are productivity drains that few businesses can afford.
How do you believe the role of Open Finance has evolved in recent years and what do you believe the next evolution is for the tech?
Open Finance is evolving rapidly. First, it was a wonder that it could be done at all. Then disappointment set in as the practical shortcomings became evident (such as the limited functionality available and the inconsistent experience across financial providers, as I have described above). Given the huge potential for customer value, these shortcomings are being addressed, not least by Open Banking innovators like Comma.
We expect to see more financial products beyond payment accounts – for instance, lending products – become embeddable within third-party software applications. We also expect to see a broader range of operations become available on these financial products as more APIs become accessible to software applications.
For example, those broader operations may include the ability to exert controls or receive notifications automatically when relevant activity on the financial product takes place. Imagine a notification is sent as soon as a payout has been initiated on an insurance product.
How are the values of Weavr and Comma aligned in order to maximise the benefits of the partnership?
The two companies have been built and run by serial entrepreneurs, with open cultures and a strong sense of mission. Bringing together strongly held views into a single vision is of course always challenging but also offers the opportunity to imagine something bolder than the sum of the parts. And that is exactly what the combined Weavr-Comma organisation is doing.